Youth Development Specialist

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Project Description

The Kingdom of Morocco is a country located in North Africa blessed with an abundance of natural resources and beauty. Morocco is a country in transition politically, socially, and economically, and the youth population in Morocco represents a dynamic demographic with enormous potential. Youth development has become a major focus for the government of Morocco, as unemployment of educated youth is high and many youth are seeking employability and entrepreneurship skills.

In this assignment, Peace Corps Volunteers in Morocco address challenges facing young people in their communities, as they empower youth to be active citizens through a variety of formal and informal avenues to creatively address topics that are interesting and engaging and foster positive youth development. Volunteers work with local youth in rural and semi-urban communities throughout Morocco. Volunteers aim to strengthen the personal development of young people by empowering them to be positively engaged in their communities, to improve employability skills and assets for the professional world of work, and to adopt positive behaviors and conduct healthy lifestyles. As a youth development volunteer, you will be assigned to a community which will include a youth center (“Dar Chabab”, literally “House of Youth” in Arabic), a women’s center (Nedi Neswi), or other associations working with youth.

Volunteers conduct community outreach and needs assessments. They act as catalysts for change and are continually engaged in defining their role in response to the host community. Community development projects focus on education, youth development, health (especially HIV/AIDS), environment, business, or a combination of these areas. Volunteers often work in youth development projects; working with after-school programs or out-of-school youth to develop activities, supporting youth in income-generating efforts, and planning and facilitating non-formal education programs.

Once you arrive at your site, you will meet with your counterpart and plan your work together. There may be more than one Volunteer assigned to the same site or you may be the only Volunteer assigned to your community.

Because you are an American, the youth in your community will be interested in learning from you. Volunteers in this assignment should expect to teach English and work directly with youth in clubs or associations to organize activities related to the community’s interests and needs. Teaching English is a particularly effective way to learn about your new community and begin working with young people. It provides you with a legitimate role from the very start, the opportunity for rapid integration as a Youth Development Specialist, and a springboard for the implementation of activities outside the classroom. Most Volunteers hold at least one English class per week for their community during the first few months of service, including various groups of people and proficiency levels. Many Volunteers also tutor youth one-on-one or in small groups in their communities in English. When you arrive to your community, you are also encouraged to meet with other organizations and associations that provide services for youth.

As you are building relationships critical to your success in the community, there will likely be many possibilities for branching out into other activities such as clubs (environment, health, leadership, gender, sports, theater, creative writing, art, music, etc.), volunteerism, and service learning projects.

Girls’ education is a priority for Morocco. Volunteers and their counterparts place special emphasis on meeting girls’ and young women’s needs through education, health and fitness, and empowerment-related activities. There will be many opportunities for you to become involved in projects addressing this area, as well as other areas of community development and youth enrichment.

Peace Corps Morocco provides high quality language and technical training that starts the day you arrive. During pre-service training (PST), you will be introduced to methodologies for building the capacity of youth which may include leadership and life skills, employability, project design and management, community health, and/or content-based English teaching. You will also learn about community integration, participatory community assessments, and project design and management. These tools will help you be able to design and implement a broad range of activities to support the needs of your community and the people of Morocco. Peace Corps Morocco is committed to providing all Volunteers with relevant professional and cultural training for effective service in their communities.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working with youth and one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

• English teaching experience preferred.
• Experience working with youth ages 12 - 30 in after school activities or other areas of non-formal education. Applicants with experience with youth in summer camps, clubs, volunteerism, sports, music, art, environment, health, or business are strongly encouraged to apply.
• The ability to adapt to unfamiliar customs and family norms, mature interpersonal skills, a willingness to suspend judgment, and ability to adapt to and accept local norms and social customs.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Additional Language Information

During pre-service training, all Trainees will learn Moroccan Arabic, also called Darija. Once you are assigned to a community, you may also learn an Amazigh language, depending on the language most commonly spoken where you live and work.

Living Conditions

Morocco is a beautiful country with a rich history, unique traditions and culture, and wonderful cuisine. The sizes and profile of sites where Youth Development Volunteers are assigned vary greatly depending on the region and climate. You could live in the desert, the mountains, or a rural village. Volunteers live in villages and towns, in many types of housing including apartments and houses. It will be hot in the summer, and it may be cold in the winter. You may find many amenities such as electricity, hot water, and even internet, but don’t expect consistent connectivity.

When you first arrive at your site, you will be staying with a host family until you can find affordable, appropriate, and safe housing. The experience of living with a Moroccan family is often one of the most rewarding aspects of Volunteer service. Host families offer Volunteers a deeper understanding of local culture, traditions, and customs and help them to become an integral part of the community. The ability to adapt to unfamiliar customs and family norms is an important skill to have or obtain; Peace Corps introduces customs and norms along with ways to adapt during Pre-Service Training. Morocco is a traditional, family-centered society with authoritarian/patriarchal leanings, and, by American standards, extreme views on gender roles and expectations. Therefore, Volunteers must have mature interpersonal skills, a willingness to suspend judgment, and ability to adapt to and accept local norms and social customs throughout their service.

Some aspects of the cultural and physical environment may be challenging. Volunteers travel by many means including trains, bus, taxi, and bikes. They are assigned a Peace Corps cell phone. Volunteers who are vegan or vegetarian may be challenged as they will need to explain these concepts to Moroccan. There is an abundance of fruits and vegetables so vegans and vegetarians can easily prepare their meals. Volunteers who are flexible, enthusiastic to integrate into their host communities, and motivated to contribute to the development of others will be able to form deep and meaningful relationships and find great satisfaction in their work.

Married couples are encouraged to apply; however, please be advised that, due to Morocco’s national laws and potential safety and security implications relating to relationships between men and women outside of marriage, domestic partners who are not legally married may not serve together as a couple with Peace Corps Morocco. Married couples will stay together with a host family during training and for a period after swearing in as Volunteers. Following the mandatory host family stay, married couples may choose to move into separate housing, if available. Please note that married couples will have separate work assignments with different organizations, but will be placed within the same community.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Morocco: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations in Morocco

  • Morocco may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; insulin-dependent diabetes; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten.
  • After arrival in Morocco, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.

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